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Women's Health

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'Medical Abortion' Regimen Is Not a Simple One


Moore says there is little doubt of the regimen's safety. "The level of confidence comes from the French experience. It's now been used for more than 10 years [in France]. ... There have been no serious adverse events reported."

Still, there is one adverse event women need to consider with a medical abortion: the possibility that it won't work. This happens in about 5% of cases, according to Saporta, leaving abortion providers with two options: "If it's incomplete you could give a follow-up dose of misoprostol or complete with a surgical [abortion] procedure."

And then there is the possibility some women might take the first drug, but not the second. Creinin says it could happen, but will likely prove a rare occurrence. "We're talking about human beings," he says. "They have the right to start down a path and change their minds. It happens very, very infrequently. Part of it is that women who go through medical abortions are very well counseled."

Medical abortion is not for everyone, Trupin tells WebMD. Women who live in remote or rural locations, more than 50-75 miles from the provider, are not candidates. Neither are those with certain medical conditions, including severe anemia; adrenal disease; severe pulmonary, liver, or kidney disease; clotting disorder, heart disease; ectopic pregnancy; or glaucoma, Trupin says.

At some point in the counseling process, patients will also be apprised of the cost for a medical abortion. And they may be surprised. "In an ideal world, there would be no difference in cost compared with surgical abortion," Creinin says.

In other words, a medical abortion could end up costing even more.

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